Topic: Hugo Chavez in Russia
The left-wing Venezuelan leader, who is on the final day of a visit to Russia, said he expected to sign an agreement on constructing an assembly plant for Kalashnikov assault rifles in his country during the talks.
Russia's leading companies, particularly Gazprom, are active on the Venezuelan market after the energy giant won a Phase A tender for the Rafael Urdaneta natural gas project and received licenses for prospecting and development of gas fields in the Bay of Venezuela with estimated capacity of 100 billion cubic meters in August 2005.
The concern is also considering participation in a $15-billion gas pipeline Venezuela-Brazil-Argentina by 2011.
Chavez is also planning to sign an agreement on the construction of a pipe-making plant in his country. The president said his country needed 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles) of pipes for a $20 billion gas pipeline to connect Venezuela with the Caribbean coast.
The South American state's leader said he had a meeting with LUKoil President Vagit Alekperov in Volgograd, southern Russia, which he visited before arriving in Moscow.
In the Kremlin, Chavez said, "I think we will start drilling at earlier discovered oil fields before the end of the year." He added that the development of deposits on the Orinoco River would also start soon.
In 2004, Russia's no.1 crude producer signed an agreement with Venezuela's PDVSA oil company to conduct studies and estimate hydrocarbon reserves of the Junin-3 fields on the river. The first phase of the studies has reportedly been completed.
"I am determined to expand relations with Russia," Chavez, known as an outspoken critic of what he calls the United States' unilateralism, told the Russian leader, adding that his determination stemmed from their shared vision of the global order.
Russia has already delivered to Venezuela over 30,000 AK-103 automatic rifles in late June under a contract for the supply of 100,000 automatic rifles. And the two countries signed $1-billion contracts on supplies of military planes and helicopters to Venezuela earlier in the month.
The deal attracted the ire of Washington, which says Venezuela's regime posed a security threat to the region.
On Thursday, Chavez said he was also considering purchasing Russian Tor M1 air defense missile systems designed to operate at medium, low and very low altitudes.
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The current contract portfolio of Russian arms exporters is worth about $46 billion. Annual exports total $15 billion, and this will ensure uninterrupted deliveries for the next three years, even in the worst-case scenario. The list of the main buyers of Russian weapons is unlikely to change drastically.